Ricky Pires Director,
“Wings of Hope” Program
What happens when 220 university students each semester work together to teach elementary school students about the Florida Panther, its habitat and water conservation?
A lot of learning and excitement!
The Florida Panther Posse is an environmental education project run through the “Wings of Hope” program at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). College Students work one-on-one with Posse students during programs throughout the school year. These experiences build confidence and help all participants to understand our natural world.
The “Florida Panther Posse Challenge” enhances students’ reading, writing, science, geography, math and research skills. Elementary students rotate through five different stations where FGCU students teach them about kittens, research, radio collars, infrared cameras, panther signs, wildlife tracks, natural history and water conservation. The learning process involves hands-on activities, note-taking, and examination of scientific instruments used for research.
Helping one cent at a time this fundraiser purchases infrared motion cameras with pennies collected by Posse students. These images, like the one taken (right) of a Florida Panther, provide researchers with crucial data about panthers, their offspring and other wildlife. Part of the funds also go to FFWCC Panther Team to help injured panthers, orphaned kittens and purchase research equipment.
Each elementary school and college student takes the information they learn and educates at least two other people about the panther and its habitat. Each year over 8,000 additional people are educated about important environmental issues in Southwest Florida.